Agroecology— Vision, Practice, Movement: Voices from social movements
A movement is growing. While agroecology has been practiced for millennia in diverse places around the world, today we are witnessing the mobilisation of transnational social movements to build, defend and strengthen agroecology as the pathway towards a most just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system.
> Read here the in-depth article by Colin Anderson, Michel Pimbert and Csilla Kiss in the Farming Matters special issue on Agroecoloy.
As CSAs, we know that local, short supply chain solutions are urgently needed. And a good starting point for this is the concept of Agro-ecology as outlined in the recent International Forum for Agroecology declaration (Nyéléni 2015). Please read the comprehensive final report from this forum!
Some key points of the Nyéléni declaration on Agro-ecology are:
- The production practices of agroecology (such as intercropping, traditional fishing and mobile pastoralism, integrating crops, trees, livestock and fish, manuring, compost, local seeds and animal breeds, etc.) are based on ecological principles.
- Territories are a fundamental pillar of agroecology. Peoples and communities have the right to maintain their own spiritual and material relationships to their lands. They are entitled to secure, develop, control, and reconstruct their customary social structures and to administer their lands and territories, including fishing grounds, both politically and socially. This implies the full recognition of their laws, traditions, customs, tenure systems, and institutions, and
constitutes the recognition of the self-determination and autonomy of peoples.
- Collective rights and access to the commons are a fundamental pillar of agroecology.
- The diverse knowledge and ways of knowing of our peoples are fundamental to agroecology. The learning processes are horizontal and peer-to-peer, based on popular education. They take place in our own training centres and territories (farmers teach farmers, fishers teach fishers, etc.), and are also intergenerational, with exchange of knowledge between youth and elders. Agroecology is developed through own innovation, research, and crop and livestock selection and breeding.
- The core of the cosmo-vision is the necessary equilibrium between nature, the cosmos and human beings. As humans we are but a part of nature and the cosmos. There is a spiritual connection with our lands and with the web of life. We reject the commodification of all forms of life.
- Families, communities, collectives, organizations and movements are the fertile soil in which agroecology flourishes. Collective self-organization and action are what make it possible to scale-up agroecology, build local food systems, and challenge corporate control of our food system. Solidarity between peoples, between rural and urban populations, is a critical ingredient.
- The autonomy of agroecology displaces the control of global markets and generates self-governance by communities. It means we minimize the use of purchased inputs that come from outside. It requires the re-shaping of markets so that they are based on the principles of solidarity economy and the ethics of responsible production and consumption. It promotes direct and fair short distribution chains. It implies a transparent relationship between producers and consumers, and is based on the solidarity of shared risks and benefits.
- Agroecology is political; it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society. We need to put the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of the peoples who feed the world.
- Women and their knowledge, values, vision and leadership are critical for moving forward.
- Youth, together with women, provide one of the two principle social bases for the evolution of agroecology. Agroecology can provide a radical space for young people to contribute to the social and ecological transformation that is underway in many of our societies. Youth bear the responsibility to carry forward the collective knowledge learned from their parents, elders and ancestors into the future. They are the stewards of agroecology for future generations. Agroecology must create a territorial and social dynamic that creates opportunities for rural youth and values women’s leadership.
> Please have a look at this video, which explores the meaning, practice and politics of agroecology from a social movement perspective. It was created as part of a research project to better understand the contested meanings and practices of agroecology at the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University in collaboration with members of La Via Campesina and the International Planning Committee For Food Sovereignty. There are two versions of the video – one short and one full length.